Nearly a decade ago, the Poynette School District began it’s Vision 2020 initiative, which took aim at improving student achievements throughout all aspects in all schools.

At the Sept. 20 School Board meeting, District Administrator Matt Shappell gave a brief presentation on those improvements as a result of changes in curriculum.

When school districts change their curriculum and how things are taught, it takes time, and sometimes districts can pull the plug on the idea too soon.

“Districts usually want immediate changes,” Shappell said.

It has been almost 10 years since the Poynette School District came up with its initiative, to have a better form of education to provide the students its absolute best. What follows is some of the highlights from Shappell’s presentation.

In 2012, the district offered no AP (Advanced Placement) courses, and now 12 are offered. Along the same lines, only 3% of juniors and seniors participated in some form of AP classes in 2012, compared to 44% during the 2020-21 year.

Participation in co-curriculars is also up from 55% in the high school in 2012, to 64% last year. At the middle school level, participation was 59% in 2012, and up to 73% last year.

In 2012, 75% of Poynette High School graduates attending MATC needed some form of remedial course in college — which does not count as a college credit. Last year, the number was down to 25% of graduates at MATC needing a remedial course.

Proficiency in all schools in math and reading have also increased over the last eight years.

Shappell noted that the administration requests that the district continues with their goal statements for another year. The goals are — increase student literacy achievement in all its forms; increase student achievement in measurable 21st century skills; and increase leadership and collaborative opportunities within a systemic professional development model.

In other news, the Board approved the first reading of the job description for the Mental Health Navigator position that the district is now seeking. The new position is in relation to the district receiving a grant for nearly $75,000 for each of the next two years to improve mental health across the district — 50% of the position will be paid from grant funds.

Shappell said hiring the position will have “no, or very little impact” to the overall budget.

Director of Student Services David Fischer said that the ideal candidate would have a degree in social work, psychology or related field. The goal is to have the position be a constant in the district, long after the two-year grant period ends.

“This will be a benefit for years to come,” Fischer said.

Board approves agreement between district, MacKenzie Center

The Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the district and the Wisconsin DNR — owners of the MacKenzie Environmental Center, which will provide a source for outdoor classrooms for all grade levels.

The MOU states that the MacKenzie Center will collaborate with the school district, providing outdoor/extended classrooms, at a discounted rate.

Per the MOU, “The WDNR agrees to provide education services to the School District of Poynette as outlined in the MacKenzie Center Program Offerings, and by request. The School District of Poynette agrees to pay the WDNR MacKenzie Center per service at a 35% discounted rate, and all standard deposit fees will be waived. There will be no cost for program and curriculum development or outreach visits to the schools of the Poynette District.”

Shappell added, “The MOU is pretty open, with MacKenzie Center pretty much saying whenever we want come, we can.”

Overnight field trip

The Board approved an overnight field trip for the FFA students to attend the National FFA Convention from Oct. 26-30 in Indianapolis.

There will be 10 students going with five FFA Advisors, including Kessa LeBlanc and the rest of the high school group.

The cost is $350 per students, and all students will adhere to all COVID-19 protocols during the trip. The goals of the trip are to help students build 21st century skills, as the National FFA Convention allows students to develop leadership, personal growth and career success.

Co-curricular role now a paid position

The Board approved that two advisors for the Gay-Straight Alliance at the high school will now be paid positions. The rate is for an additional 1% of their yearly salary, which equates to about $391 for the year per advisor.

Shappell noted that the positions are some of the last club advisors not getting paid, as the district usually has an initial period of not paying advisors to see if the clubs “have legs” and will grow.

Construction update

Construction is nearing completion across the district schools.

“Things are going real well, we’re just about done,” Shappell said. “I’ll be happy when it’s done. … There’s been significant changes to the district to just about every aspect of the teachers’ and kids’ lives.”

It was noted by Clerk Randy Tomlinson, who also sits on the Facilities Committee that some of the indoor furniture is arriving, while other pieces won’t be in until December. Also, 80% of the outdoor furniture was delivered damage. The pieces are usable, but will have replacements sent.

Also, the floor to the STEAM room was installed incorrectly. Over winter break, machines will be moved and the floor will be redone. Shappell noted that the floor is under warranty.

Personnel update

The Board approved Elementary School Principal Jay Hausser and Curriculum Specialist Anna Velazguez stepping down as Summer School Principals only.

In other personnel news, the district hired Aaron Wells has a custodian and accepted the resignation of Jenny Drews in food service. Two co-curricular/coaching/advisors were hired — Christy Hellmich for Hope Squad and Kessa LaBlanc as eighth grade volleyball coach.

Currently the only opening for the district is for one more full-time custodian.

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